In your article on Bayesian spam filters (I didn't read the essay since before joining YC aka several years) You mentioned rules based systems only work up to a point. Today it's Valleywag (I don't care about the site one way or the other) tomorrow your getting requests to ban half a dozen sites per day.
I think that instead of banning a specific site a better solution is to make the algorithm better.
I think you can't really rely on people to withhold their votes when the content is engineered to take advantage of the human psyche.
Could a bayesian filter really separate fact and fiction? Cross-correlated ancedote and rumour? Satire and sensationalism? Humans struggle. Maybe one day...
The community doesn't seem to be able to correct itself, so if the content starts to veer away from the site's original principles, some external force is needed to gently nudge it back on track.
All that said, I don't really have a considered opinion on whether or not blacklisting Valleywag is a good thing; it is not something that I care much about.
Even though it seems to do what it aims to do well, its ultimate goal == to sell advertising by creating sensationalist headlines and feeding the egos of people who have (or who nurture through Valleywag mentions) a grotesque vanity complex == is hardly original or noteworthy. Most hackers go out of their way to _avoid_ spotlight, so I think for the most part Valleywag is just digital GIGO. Occasionally almost humorous, but GIGO nonetheless.
Blacklisting would simply not show me stories with given string in the url.
We shouldn't expect never to have to ban a site if both (a) we want to make News.YC be about a specific topic, and (b) there are sites with a deliberate strategy of linkbaiting.
But honestly, not too passionate about this either way, just throwing in my two cents.
Edit: Wrote a cheapo greasemonkey script to do this...
Censorship is not the answer, ever.
Though in fact I do have a new plan for dealing with cases like Valleywag (suggested by Nick Grandy of Wundrbar): instead of simply banning linkbait sites, I'm going to try semi-banning them by requiring them to get more points to make it onto the frontpage. That sounds right: they're semi-spam, so semi-ban them.
- At one end: the posts from new/under-participatory users, where spam and linkbait is more likely.
- At the other: the posts to popular domains.
What I love about HN is that it manages to uncover interesting content from all over, but I am inclined to believe this is due to its current user base. With an algorithm in place that reinforces this behavior, I think we can continue to grow in the right direction.
I believe the first point may already factor in, but does the second?
The solution could be relatively simple: the more "popular" a domain name is, the more votes a submission requires to become "relevant."
Popularity could be determined a number of ways, at least using the number of submissions under the same domain, and perhaps the average number of votes the domain receives. The actual formula would take some tweaking over time.
In theory, a site with multiple submissions, like Valleywag or TechCrunch, would require more universal and active interest to warrant a front-page appearance. Valleywag (the more volatile of the two), would probably fade away, whereas the interesting TechCrunch articles would still come through.
I like the idea of requiring sites like XKCD, Valleywag, TechCrunch, and others to get more votes to make it to the front page. When that's implemented, will you then un-ban Valleywag?
So, like Paul said, I guess there IS a time when censorship in the answer, and it's for obvious spam.
If you have a blog, you do not prevent or delete comment spam?